The rebuilt Aston that out-replicates the replicas
There was a time when words such as ‘replica’, ‘evocation’. ‘tribute’ and ‘continuation’ prompted sneers of disdain among those who believed cars that had been made to look like limited-production rarities were nothing more than fakes to be avoided at all costs (no matter how cheap).
But attitudes have changed, and for a variety of reasons. The soaring price of the handfuls of factory specials that exist and the infrequency with which they come to market has undoubtedly led to more accessible evocations becoming acceptable – but possibly more significant is simply the fact that today’s recreations are so damn good that they can be more than a match for the real thing and, in some cases, markedly better.
One particular continuation car that has been in the spotlight recently is the Aston Martin DB4 GT, thanks to Aston’s decision to produce 25 ‘new’ versions to add to the 75 originals manufactured between 1959 and 1963. Direct from Aston Martin Works – the firm’s heritage division – they cost £2m plus VAT and, while they’re beautifully built and about as authentic as you’ll get, they can’t be used on the road.
That’s not the case with this entirely street-legal, £1.5m all-in 1963 DB4 Vantage Series 5 on offer at William Loughran. It has been meticulously upgraded to GT specification to create a car of unimpeachable quality.
Said to have taken four years to complete, it’s based on a rare closed-headlight Series 5 Vantage that was in need of full restoration. Being of the correct age and design, it was decided to transform it into a GT replica using the skills of the best experts in the business (some of whom, truth be told, are the unsung heroes behind those ‘official’ DB4 GT continuation cars).
The William Loughran car, therefore, had its body and chassis work executed by Buckinghamshire-based DB4 GT guru Bodylines, so its dimensions are millimetre- correct, right down to the precisely shortened chassis, hand-crafted lightweight thin-gauge aluminium body panels and bespoke GT-specification fuel tank.
Another blue-chip Aston restoration specialist, R S Williams, was behind the engine rebuild, enlarging it to 4.7 litres and adding a correct 12-plug GT cylinder head and twin distributors to endow the car with an easy 410 horsepower to result in what might just be the quickest road-going DB4 in existence.
The interior, meanwhile, is immaculately trimmed in tan Connolly hide with toning Wilton carpet in the cargo area, and is furnished with the correct – and ultra-rare – 7000rpm tacho with which DB4 GTs were originally fitted. There’s also an original two-band radio and the essential Nardi-type wood-rimmed steering wheel.
To complete the picture, the Northamptonshire-based Spray-Tec – another classic Aston specialist – applied a rich coat of Black Pearl metallic paint that still looks flawless today, more than a decade after the build was completed.
Further adding to the car’s desirability, meanwhile, is the fact that it has covered 6000 sensible miles on the road since its modification, shaking everything down, enabling any snagging issues to have been addressed and keeping everything in full working order.
And the icing on the cake, of course, is that Loughran’s ‘evocation’ will cost you considerably less than the real thing – which is ironic considering that many might judge it to be the better car.